Luka Modric: From refugee to leading Croatian national team | 2018 FIFA World Cup™

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Luka Modric and others from the Croatian national team enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ final after a difficult upbringing in their one country.

[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: Luka Modric, the finest Croatian player of his generation, has won three straight UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid, and has now led his own humble country-- through equal parts skill and inspiration-- to the World Cup final. Modric is something else too. He is a refugee.

In 1991, when the war that eventually tore apart the former Yugoslavia escalated near his home town, Modric's grandfather, also named Luca, was killed by Croatian-Serb rebels. The family's home was burned down. Six-year-old Luca's family moved to the Croatian port town of Zadar and lived in a hotel for five years as the war rage in his homeland. Luca learned to play soccer in the hotel parking lot.

Yet Modric isn't the only refugee on the greatest Croatian team of all time. center back Dejan Lovren was born in the Bosnian town of Zenica, but fled with his family to Germany for seven years before moving to Croatia. Vedran Corluka also became an exile after growing up in the Bosnian town of Modran and moving eventually to Zagreb. Mario Mandzukic, who scored the goal that beat England, started playing soccer in Germany where his family had fled from the War of Croation Independence.

Croatia's unlikely run to the World Cup final is the story of players who were uprooted with their families in the most dire circumstances. It is the story of a nation that managed, barely, to survive. It is the story of a small but courageous midfielder who developed his preternatural skills in a war zone as a refugee and used those talents to inspire the world. His story belongs with all the ones that matter the most, the ones that go down in history.